According to Lutheran Health Network‘s Sleep Disorder Center children between the ages of 5 through 12 should get 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night. How much sleep does your child get? Are they getting enough? Is your child’s sleep affecting their mood and causing problems during the day? Sleep studies have determined that children who do not get enough sleep at night can start having problems as early as 3-4 years old. School age children can have difficulties learning in school and have problems playing with their peers. Here are a few tips that can help your child avoid sleep problems and achieve a good night’s sleep.
Establish a sleep routine before they go to bed. Giving them a warm bath or reading a story to them helps them relax and prepares their mind and body that it is time to go to sleep. It is best to stop video games, TV shows and rough-housing at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime.
Avoid big meals and anything with caffeine before bedtime. A heavy meal can cause indigestion causing them to wake up during the night. A lot of liquids before bed can also cause them to wake up to use the bathroom. Caffeine in soda or chocolate can stimulate your child and keep them awake. Some suggest not to have caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime.
Your child’s room temperature may be affecting their quality of sleep. Make sure it is not too cold or too hot.
Your child’s bedroom should also be quiet and dark. Is your child’s bedroom next to the living room and they can hear the TV? Try some soft sleep music, a CD that has sleep mood sounds or even a fan to drown out the TV noise. Is your child afraid of the dark? If so, use a small night light instead of a bright hall light or TV.
Good sleep is not only important for your child’s ability to function well during the day it is also important for their health. A good night’s sleep can improve their cognitive function, provide more energy for sports and playing, fight germs and give them an over all better feeling about themselves. A sleep diary is a fun way to help you as the parent and your pediatrician guide your child to understand the importance of sleep and determine if your child has a sleep problem that can be treated. The following link is a sleep diary that is seven days long. Part 1 helps to acknowledge what your child is doing prior to going to bed and this will help establish a good sleep routine. Part 2 is completed after the child wakes up answering questions..How well did you sleep? and How much sleep did you get last night? Part 3 is completed at the end of the day to determine how the child felt and Part 4 is based on the day which they had the least amount of sleep and the most.
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